12 Beers of Christmas 2013 – Day 2 – Noël des Gèants

The second entry into this year’s Christmas beer review is one I haven’t seen before. When looking for Christmas beers, I tend to keep an eye out for “Noel” in the name because those reference Christmas beers brewed up by Belgian/French breweries. And I love me some “noel” beers.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Noël des Gèants, Brasserie des Légendes, 8.5% ABV

Noel de Geants from Brasserie des Legendes.

Noel de Geants from Brasserie des Legendes.

This Holiday beer pours out a bright copper color with an off-white head. The aroma reminds me of dried apricots, or peaches, with a soft alcohol quality and slight peppery note. The flavor is of lightly toasted malts, with a noticeable fruity character, and earthy hop flavor. Hop bitterness is medium-low. Despite the higher alcohol level, the body of this beer is medium-low/medium, with an effervescent carbonation.

Noel des Geants in its unique bottle.

Noel des Geants in its unique bottle.

This is a delicious beer. There’s a complexity in its flavor that is hidden behind its delicate nature. It’s surprisingly easy drinking. Its light body is probably the result of using candy sugar to up its alcohol content. I can easily see myself sipping on several glasses of this ale with a group of friends as we sit around talking about Christmas past.

The back label tells an interesting story.

The back label tells an interesting story.

Trying to get back into blogging is taking a bit of effort. There’s a rhythm to writing that I’m not used to, at least not yet, but it’s coming back fairly quickly. I just need to get used to taking photos with my phone as I no longer have a camera at my disposal. In any event, here’s to day 2.

Happy Holidays!

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12 Beers of Christmas 2013 – Day 1 – Celebration Ale 2013

Yep! It’s back! I’m back (well, kinda)! It’s the BetterBeerBlog annual 12 Beers of Christmas beer review series. As you may or may not know, I love the Holidays. People seem to hate on this time of year as they feel it has gotten too commercialized. While that’s certainly arguable, we must not forget the sentiments behind the holiday… an excuse to brew up tasty craft beers!

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Celebration Ale 2013, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, 6.8% ABV

Celebration Ale 2013 main label.

Celebration Ale 2013 main label.

Celebration Ale 2013 from Sierra Nevada pours out a brilliantly clear, light brown color with orange/amber highlights and an off-white head. The aroma has resiny, slightly lemony citrus character. The flavor has resiny/piney and lemony citrus hop flavor. There’s a light caramel malt flavor for balance. I also pick up a very soft alcohol note. This a medium/medium-full bodied beer with moderate carbonation.

betterbeerblog-12beers2014-day1-CelebrationNeckLabel

Close up of the neck label on Celebration 2013.

This is a very well balanced IPA. Even by today’s West coast IPA standards, this IPA seems tame by comparison. While many craft breweries choose to brew up spiced ales or high alcohol, malt forward beers, Sierra Nevada chooses to stick to the formula that has made this beer a welcome holiday success since 1981; and I continue to look forward to this beer year after year.

betterbeerblog-12beers2014-day1-CelebrationBottleGlass

Celebration 2013 in a glass. Yum!

It’s been quite a while since my last blog post, I know. In my eternal naiveté, I thought I would have enough energy to work my job(s), blog, exercise, spend time with family, continue to work on opening my business, and lead an otherwise fulfilling life. How silly of me. Something had to give and it was the blog.

So consider this 12 Beers of Christmas 2014 my attempt at jumping back into the blogging world. I’m starting off in the shallow end, wading in slowly and into familiar territory. I hope that I haven’t lost too many of you, dear readers, in the many months of silence.

Cheers! Mabuhay! Happy Holidays!

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3rd Annual Better Brews Tasting Garden at SubZERO Festival

Yes, kiddies, it’s that time of the year again. The Better Brews Tasting Garden will once again be pouring in the heart of the 6th Annual SubZERO Festival. I’m finding it hard to believe that this will be the 3rd year I’ve worked on this festival. It just seems like yesterday that I was running around like a chicken without a head trying to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.

If you want more event information, or are looking to volunteer, check out the event page here.

Mabuhay!

Posted in Beer Festivals, Craft Beer, Events, Fun Stuff | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Breaking Bread – Beer Braised Carnitas

Cinco de Mayo is the obvious inspiration behind this recipe. While not exactly authentic, these carnitas are pretty spot on and provide succulent chunks of pork that are sure to please friends and family. Maltopia wee heavy scotch ale was selected partly for it’s rich, caramel notes and the intensity of flavor it will lend to the final product, but also to support hard working locals over at Hermitage Brewing Company. If you can’t find their beer near you start by asking your local bottle shop to acquire some; they make great stuff including a single hop ipa series. If that fails try using something brewed in your neck of the woods.

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, beer braised carnitas.

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, beer braised carnitas.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Breaking Bread – Beer Braised Carnitas
Author: 
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-5
 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these beer braised carnitas.
Ingredients
  • 5 lbs Pork Butt, boneless
  • 8 -12ea Cloves Garlic, slightly crushed (add more if desired)
  • 3 – 22oz Hermitage Maltopia
  • 1 – Onion, quartered Guajillo
  • 1 – Orange, quartered
  • 2 – Guajillo Peppers, toasted and seeded
  • 1tbsp – Salt
  • 1tsp – Black Pepper
  • 6″ Yellow Corn Tortillas, warmed
  • White Onion and Cilantro, chopped
  • Lime wedges

Instructions
  1. Cut Pork into 2-3″ chunks. Add all ingredients besides the orange to a bowl or bag and mix to coat pork. Refrigerate over night
  2. Remove pork from marinade mixture making most of the garlic is removed from the meat and reserve to add later.
  3. Heat a large pan and preheat the oven to 350F. Add a touch of oil or to the pan and sear pork on all sides. (this may take a couple batches depending on pan size)
  4. Deglaze pan with a bottle of Maltopia using a fork or whisk to scrape fond/brown bits from the pan. Squeeze the orange add it to the liquid.
  5. Return the seared pork to the pan, add the marinade, add enough water to cover pork and bring to a boil. Skimming any foam that forms.
  6. Place your pan in the oven and braise for 3-4 hours, turning occasionally, until the pork is tender and the liquid has rendered down. Continue cooking until the pork sand sauce begin to caramelize.
  7. Warm tortillas in the oven or on the stove top.
  8. Heat a skillet and sear pork to develop some crispness. Add a splash of Maltopia then cover to steam and heat carnitas through.
  9. Take two tortillas per serving apply a generous pinch of pork, garnish with chopped onion and cilantro, then enjoy!
  10. Don’t forget to open another beer to wash down your delicious tacos. Then again, you’ve probably been enjoying a beer throughout the whole process.

Posted in Beer and Food, Breaking Bread, Cooking, Craft Beer | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Breaking Bread – Spent Grain Steamed Corned Beef

The mentality behind this recipe is utilizing spent grain at it’s freshest to possibly create a brewer-friendly, family style meal that can easily be prepared during a brew day. Fresh spent grain with already hot and wet, two qualities that are great for steaming. There is also an added benefit, imparting aroma…similar to what is experienced when mashing in. Not a brewer? Think somewhere along the lines of an amazing bowl of oatmeal or relatively healthy breakfast cereal.

St. Patrick’s Day was the perfect excuse to utilize this recipe concept in preparing corned beef and cabbage though I’m sure applications won’t stop there…

Voila! Spent grain steamed corned beef and cabbage, with potatoes.

Voila! Spent grain steamed corned beef and cabbage, with potatoes.

Spent Grain Steamed Corned Beef
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 3-3.5 lbs Corned Beef, any cut
  • 6 Red Potatoes, medium
  • 1 Head of Cabbage, divided
  • 2T Sea Salt
  • 1-2T Corning/Pickling Spice
  • Malt Syrup, optional
  • Enough fresh spent grain to cover the Corned Beef

Instructions
  1. Set up your stove top steamer. Fill the pot with a couple inches of water and beer then add the salt. Turn on medium high
  2. Put the steaming basket on the pot and add a base layer of spent grain. Place the corned beef in the center then cover with more spent grain making sure it wis completely covered. Adding a little malt syrup will help enhance the effects of steaming in spent grain.
  3. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the burner to maintain enough heat to create steam that penetrates up into the grain bed.
  4. Steam for 3-4 hours until fork tender. Add your cabbage and potatoes to the pot below and cook for the last 30-45 minutes of steaming or until desired texture is reached.
  5. Allow the beef to rest and remove it from the grain. Carefully scrape off the spent grain or dip in the steaming liquid to rinse the meat.
  6. Portion. Serve. Crack another beer and enjoy!

Posted in Breaking Bread, Cooking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hopinions: Craft Beer Hall of Fame

It’s been a while since I’ve penned a Hopinions piece with my fellow craft beer blogger Mario, from Brewed for Thought. I think I found a topic that I think many of our readers will enjoy, and hopefully foster some healthy discussion. Without any further delay, it’s the Hopinions Craft Beer Hall of Fame!

From BetterBeerBlog

There was some baseball writer on the radio who was being interviewed by a couple of guys asking about why he voted some steroid taking ball player into the HOF, or why he didn’t vote some other player into the HOF. Then they spoke about the baseball writers guild (or group, I’m not sure what they call themselves), and how they’re responsible for just the awards they dole out but the baseball HOF is responsible for their stuff.

Obviously, I am not a baseball fan. But I knew you were and would probably get a kick talking about this topic. So, with craft beer being in existence for over 40 years now, do you think the time is right to put together a craft beer “Hall of Fame”?

I can’t even wrap my head around the idea, really. Would the Craft Beer Hall of Fame (CBHOF) be virtual or would there be a physical location/museum someplace? If so, where would the most appropriate place be? Who would get to decide who would be in it? What would qualify someone to be in the CBHOF? Do we open the CBHOF to beers as well as people? Do we stick to craft beer or should the CBHOF be expanded to include all beer and breweries, thus making AB, and other super breweries, eligible? Having never been to Canton, Ohio (or any Hall of Fame for that matter), I wouldn’t know where to begin.

What I do feel is that craft beer pioneers like Fritz Maytag and Jack McAuliffe are no brainers. Afterwards, who else?

So now I guess the ball is in your court. What are your thoughts about the idea, how to organize it, and any first nominees?

From Mario

First things first, as baseball started this conversation, the National Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, football is in Canton. With that clarified, let’s talk about the Craft Beer Hall of Fame.

Logistics of a Hall of Fame sound like we’re making a business plan, I just want to talk about the inductees. When founded, the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted 5 players with a plan to eventually induct 15 (10 from the 20th century, 5 from the 19th century). To me, the first 5 are significant. In 1936, there was Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. Let’s find those figures of the craft brewing world.

The easiest pick is Fritz Maytag. He was craft brewing before there was craft brewing. Anchor Brewing has done so much for the craft beer world that many modern drinkers don’t understand. Liberty Ale was an IPA before Sierra Nevada brewed their Pale Ale. The styles of Porter and Barleywine would likely have disappeared had Anchor Brewing not saved them. Seasonal releases were unheard of when Anchor began brewing Our Special Ale. Lastly, Fritz made the decision to maintain a museum and brewery with the beautiful Potrero Hill facility.

Second I’d have to take Ken Grossman. Sierra Nevada is iconic. Who hasn’t had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? For many of us it was a measuring stick. When we first began drinking, Pale Ale was too hoppy. Then it began our staple. Finally, we started complaining that the recipe had changed. Like a street junkie needing the bigger fix, our hop demands would only grow from there. How many kids are mainlining Pliny the Elder thanks to Ken Grossman and his green-labeled classic.

The next two are kind of a package deal: Vinnie Cilurzo and Sam Calagione. These Leaders of the New School taught us that it’s not just another case of that old IPA. A new sense of creativity was brought to the craft beer world with the “extreme brewing” techniques exemplified by these two brewers. From Cilurzo’s barrel-aging and hop proficiency to Calagione’s creativity, the world of craft beer will never be the same again.

My last nomination is actually a two-for-one, but I find it hard to separate the two and their impact on the craft beer world. Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield don’t brew their own beer, at least not today, but have influenced the tastes of beer drinkers in the United States for over 3 decades via their import company Vanberg & DeWulf. Vanberg & DeWulf introduced beers like Duvel, Rodenbach and Affligem to the United States. In 1996, Feinberg and Littlefield (Don’s wife who joined the company officially in 1990) helped found Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY (coincidentally the same town as the National Baseball Hall of Fame). Today, the still import beer to the United States, mostly from Belgium, and their portfolio includes such classics as Saison Dupont, Scaldis and Castelain.

What’s your nomination ballot look like?

From Peter

Narrowing the focus to who the first round of inductees should be is a great idea. Since this is all hypothetical anyway, it would do us no good to dive into the logistics in the first place.

I had to think long about who I would nominate for induction into the CBHoF. There are a lot of worthy candidates that span every aspect of the craft beer industry from people, to breweries, and even beers. Luckily for me, my sisters took their time to pick me up this morning after dropping my car off to have some work done. That said, here are my 5 nominees:

  • Michael “The Beer Hunter” Jackson - Jackson was a pioneer in defining what craft beer is. His landmark book, The World Guide to Beer, formed the basis of beer style theory. Beer writers everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude, I think.
  • Charlie Papazian - I think Papazian warrants inclusion in the CBHoF for several reasons. Papazian is probably the most influencial person in homebrewing today. His book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, is known as the “go-to” resource for homebrewers and arguably helped to inspire many of the professional brewers whose beers we love to imbibe today. Factor in his leadership roles in the Brewers Association, and the American Homebrewers Association, and I think he would be difficult to leave out.
  • Judy Ashworth - Ashworth is an infamous figure in the craft beer world. Former owner of the bar Lyons Brewery Depot, Ashworth was one of the original publicans to wholeheartedly support craft beer.
  • “Electric” Dave Harvan - There are some really great stories in the nascent stage of craft beer history and at the center of many of those stories is “Electric” Dave. Harvan was the first to be granted a micro brewing license in the state of Arizona and was influential in helping establish the craft brewers of today, like Vinnie Cilurzo. I wouldn’t even know about Harvan if Cilurzo himself didn’t pay the man homage during his keynote speech at the National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego a few years ago.
  • New Albion Brewing Company - My original thought was to induct New Albion Brewing Company brewmaster/owner Jack McAuliffe into the CBHoF but I think New Albion’s legacy as “the most important failed brewery in the industry’s history” surpasses McAuliffe himself. It was McAuliffe’s idea, embodied by New Albion Brewing, that helped to inspire the microbreweries we love today, like Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Regardless of who/what gets nominated, McAuliffe or New Albion, I think it would be gross oversight to leave this out of the CBHoF.

Under the assumption we would mirror the original intent of the Baseball Hall of Fame and limit the first inductees to just 5, who would we keep and who would we have to table until the next voting opportunity? Controversy often follows subjective discussions such as who should, or shouldn’t be, in any Hall of Fame.

Let me be the first to fan the flames of controversy by saying your nominations of brewers Ken Grossman, Vinnie Cilurzo, Sam Calagione, and importer Vanberg & DeWulf should be tabled until next year. While I wholeheartedly agree with you that their influence on the industry is wide reaching, nominees like Harvan and McAuliffe not only precede several of your nominations but were significant influences to them.

I am curious to hear what our readers think about our nominations as well as who they think should be on the shortlist that we didn’t already mention.

Speaking of nominations, what should the criteria for nominations be? Should the CBHoF only be relegated to people or are breweries, beers, distributors, and bars eligible? What about institutions such as the fermentation sciences program at U.C. Davis? Also, are super breweries out of the question? Mammoth breweries such as Anheuser Busch warrant inclusion in the overall history of beer but should their influence on craft beer be ignored?

For example, I’d like to think Charlie Bamforth warrants inclusion into the CBHoF but is he automatically eliminated from contention simply because he is the “Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science”? Likewise, Stone Brewing Company brewmaster Mitch Steele got his start working for Anheuser-Busch. I’m sure the things he learned while working for A-B has benefitted Stone Brewing immensely. But does his time at A-B overshadow his contributions to craft brewing via his time at Stone? To me, the obvious answer is “no” but where do we draw the line?

From Mario

For the Baseball Writers of America to vote on a player, the player only needs 10 years of playing time and to have been retired 5 years. After that, you must maintain 5% of the vote or you’re dropped from the ballot. Players then have 15 years to reach the 75% threshold to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

I think the issue could be best put to the public and to fellow beer writers. Shall we open the debate to 10 just like a baseball ballot for fun? All are welcome to be nominated.

Just like Ichiro, Mitch may have done some work in another league, but he’s also performed well in his second career in craft beer. For Dr Bamforth, he’s likely taught more craft brewers than any other person given the UC Davis program. I can’t see how he could be left off.

With the expansion to 10, I’d like to include New Albion as well, Jim Koch, Charlie Papazian, Micheal Jackson and Pierre Celis.

Readers, fans, friends, let’s hear your 10 nominations. Please include them in the comments below, or email them to Peter or myself, or leave them on our Facebook pages. We’ll announce the Hopinions Hall of Fame when we’ve tired of counting nominations (edit: Or until January 16th, which ever comes first – Peter).

Posted in Craft Beer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So long 2012, we hardly knew ye!

As I sit in my office on this bright, final Monday afternoon of 2012, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about the year that just passed. In many parts of the world, 2012 is already a memory as New Year’s Eve celebrations have concluded, or are just beginning. For us, several hours remain. Some of us are still clocking in our final hours of work while others prep for tonight’s festivities.

The Year That Was

2012 was a year I had high hopes for. It’s been well over a year since I made my “grand declaration” to open up my own craft beer business and, to my chagrin, I am no closer to achieving this goal than I was when I first made the announcement. That isn’t to say we haven’t had any forward movement in this endeavor, or that I’ve sat on my ass for all this time wistfully day dreaming. The harsh truth to the matter is that I’ve had just as many set backs as I’ve had successes. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and several refrigerators full of beer. Things could be much much worse and I’m thankful that they’re not.

A large part of this is because I’ve started working for the San Jose brewery Hermitage Brewing Company. Hermitage has given me the opportunity to keep my head above water by earning my keep there. It’s been a much more challenging job than I anticipated but I am learning so much about the craft beer businesses that blogging alone wouldn’t have taught me. I can’t thank the people there, like Peter L. and Carolyn V., for believing in me enough to give me a job. At the end of the day, that’s all any able bodied American wants: an opportunity to show they can earn their way.

These are dynamic times for us at BetterBeerBlog. I am, essentially, in the middle of changing careers. While the opportunities to practice graphic design are few and far between, it is through the support of my wife Mrs. BetterBeerBlog that I am able to make this transition. More accurately, we are able to make this transition. After all, once you get married, your life no longer belongs to you exclusively. Any decisions I make have to be made with Mrs. BetterBeerBlog in consideration. We are a team, have been for the past 5 years, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future and beyond. So to her, I heartily say, “Thank you, and I love you”.

The Year That Will Be

No one can predict what the future will bring, just ask all the Mayan calendar doomsday naysayers. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something. My “crystal ball”, which is only as accurate as my Google calendar, says that 2013 will be a busy year full of opportunity. Whether or not this potential is realized is entire up to me.

I find myself in a unique position. Between the blog, my job at the brewery, and my ambitions to open up my own place, there are plenty of opportunities to affect craft beer in the South Bay for the better. As always, I will continue to work towards the ultimate goal of helping to build a culture of craft beer. In that sense, nothing will change for me. What has changed is that I will no longer be attempting this on my own as there are a lot of new players to the craft beer game in the South Bay. But all I can control is what is in my immediate grasp, even then, shit happens and you just have to be able to roll with the punches.

So what will 2013 bring? In my immediate future, there’s a bunch of posts I need to finish writing. There are also events that need to be planned and beer to be sold. Otherwise, I don’t know, but I am optimistic. It’s just who I am. I’d rather focus on the good things in life over the negative. Our time on earth is just too short to worry about the bullshit that doesn’t matter; let’s collectively try on focus on making the world a better place than what we inherited.

No matter what happens, I hope you continue to be a part of my life either by continuing to read this humble blog of mine, by crossing the digital divide and sharing a pint with me in person, or by just drinking good craft beer. I hope 2012 wasn’t too bad for you, but I do wish 2013 will be better for all of us.

Masaya Bagong Taon! (“Happy New Year” in Filipino)

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12 Beers of Christmas 2012 – Day 12 – Celebration Ale 2012 from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Celebration Ale 2012, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, 6.8%

Celebration 2012 from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

Celebration 2012 from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

Another year is almost over, and with this final beer review, another 12 Beers of Christmas  series of holiday beer reviews is over as well. There were some new beers that I got to try and some old standbys that never seem to disappoint.

Celebration Ale 2012 in a glass.

Celebration Ale 2012 in a glass.

Celebration Ale 2012 pours out a slightly hazy amber color with an off-white/beige colored head. The aroma is hoppy, like freshly picked Cascade hops. The flavor is a balance between caramel malt, and citrus and pine hop flavors. This is a medium bodied beer with high carbonation and a dry finish.

The back of the bottle of Celebration 2012.

The back of the bottle of Celebration 2012.

Rodger Davis, brewmaster for Faction Brewing Company, once told me, “Always end on a hoppy note”. So, I decided to end this year’s 12 Beers of Christmas with the hoppiest holiday ale I know of. This is a fantastic beer and one that I’m looking to enjoy year in and year out.

Merry Christmas!

The neck of the bottle from Celebration 2012.

The neck of the bottle from Celebration 2012.

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12 Beers of Christmas 2012 – Day 11 – Yulesmith from Alesmith Brewing Company

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Yulesmith Holiday Ale, Alesmith Brewing Company, 8.5% ABV

Yulesmith Holiday Ale from Alesmith Brewing Company.

Yulesmith Holiday Ale from Alesmith Brewing Company.

It’s the home stretch! Only 2 more holiday beers to review, including this one. This holiday beer comes to us from San Diego craft brewer Alesmith Brewing Company. I’ve been to their brewery several times and they’re always doing interesting things. Let’s see how interesting their holiday ale is.

Yulesmith Holiday Ale in a glass.

Yulesmith Holiday Ale in a glass.

Yulesmith Holiday Ale pours out reddish brown with rosé colored highlights and a beige head. The aroma is a hoppy combination of pine, floral and citrus. There’s a perfumy alcohol character as well. The malt aroma is caramel like with some toffee notes. The flavor  is a balance between caramel malts and resiny hops. The hop bitterness is medium. This is a full bodied beer with medium-high carbonation and a balanced finish with slight alcohol astringency.

Back of the bottle for Yulesmith Holiday Ale.

Back of the bottle for Yulesmith Holiday Ale.

While there is a substantial hop character to this beer, it is balanced by an equally robust malt character. In a season of typically malty beers, it’s nice to see some balance and a slight return to hops.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Posted in Craft Beer, Fun Stuff, Reviews, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

12 Beers of Christmas 2012 – Day 10 – Arctic Circle Ale from Malmgard Brewery

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Arctic Circle Ale, Malmgard Brewery, 7.3% ABV

Arctic Cirle Ale from Malmgard Brewery.

Arctic Cirle Ale from Malmgard Brewery.

During the holiday season, it’s easy to look towards the great brewing countries to see what holiday ales they’re brewing up. With the selection available on the shelves today, it’s easy to overlook craft breweries from other countries. With its high contrast, graphic label, I was able to spot Arctic Circle Ale on the shelf.

Arctic Circle Ale in a glass.

Arctic Circle Ale in a glass.

Arctic Circle Ale pours out a dark reddish brown color with ruby hues and a beige colored head. The aroma has a deeply toasted malt character, some caramel notes, and dark fruit quality. The flavor, like the aroma, is malty balance between deep toast and caramel. There’s some dark fruit notes reminiscent of dates and some raisin. There’s also an herbal quality to the flavor. Hop bitterness is medium, possibly medium-high, with a slight tannic quality also. This is a full bodied beer with medium/medium-high carbonation, and a balanced finish.

Taking a look at the back of the bottle of Arctic Circle Ale.

Taking a look at the back of the bottle of Arctic Circle Ale.

I haven’t had too many Finnish beers before so I’m just soaking this up. If you hadn’t told me where this beer was from, I’d have guessed it was Belgian-style but with a herbal/earthy character to it. It’s a pleasant change to the beers we’ve been tasting this season.

Hyvää Joulua!

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